The other day I was watching a brilliant social history documentary television programme where they were talking about the criminal classes. These are an interesting group regarded as the lowest of the low and in the past there were whole streets and areas (ghettos) in which these people tended to live for various reasons.
Since having children I have noticed a change in attitude towards me when out and about with the kids. The other day I was in Debenhams and went to the till to be pushed out of the way by another woman. Ned was screaming, she didn’t care, she was going first. When I eventually got served (her transaction was complex) the bloke behind the till said something along the lines of me being there first and how some people think they are better. I had to agree. It got me thinking, she thought she was better because I had a screaming baby, she thought she deserved to be served first.
Yesterday in Ikea Wembley I had a nightmare experience. In fact, most trips to Ikea are a nightmare but this one was worse. The kids got to the tills and decided they both needed to go to the loo. I took them to the ones close by which were closed for refurbishment. The nearest ones were by the entrance to the shop, I marched them around there. Kerry the Duty Manager had closed all but two toilets as the shop was nearing closing time. The queue was enormous, I mean really enormous. I stood there with two children hopping on the spot and a baby strapped to me. She told me there was nothing she could do, she wouldn’t open a toilet for them. I explained that at 5 & 3 they couldn’t wait. We were directed outside, they could wee up the wall. I had 3 children with me, she wasn’t going to help. Tempted to let them wee all over the floor, I took them outside the door and let them do it there. They are too little to know better, I felt humiliated and very angry.
We live in nappy valley, people move here from London because of the schools and the way of life when its time to have kids. You’d think that most of the local big stores would have considered it a reasonable idea to have the baby clothes/ food section on the ground floor. Nope, in Boots St Albans there are vast displays of toilet roll and bubble bath juxtaposed with a queue for the lift to take you to the baby section. In Marks and Spencer you have to fight the pensioners getting in the lift to the Financial Services desk and cafe and then navigate past too small displays to the baby/ kids section and so it continues. I have money to spend, I have all day. This is acceptable. No wonder my generation buys more and more things on the Internet.
I could go on and on, before kids life was easy. I shopped in places where people opened the doors, people were pleasant and polite. I never had to endure the fact that many people think its acceptable to park in mother and baby slots because its easy rather than because they have kids. The fact that I cant physically actually get my kids in and out of the car in another space would never even have been known to me. Have you ever noticed that with a child in tow people talk to you as if you have suddenly become mentally retarded. The act of pregnancy and giving birth causing a loss of brain cells. Before children people addressed me by my name not as ‘Ned’s Mum’ or ‘Fifi’s mum’. I no longer exist.
Through the act of pregnancy and childbirth I have effectively become a third class citizen. I’m not a member of the criminal class, but I am a member of the modern day equivalent in many ways . I live in an enclave with other parents due to the proximity of good schools and appropraite housing, I am known in my local community, albeit not by my actual name and I spend a lot of time screaming like a caterwauler. The government appear to know whats best for me, albeit tax wise, job wise, pension wise and childcare wise but they wont listen to my thoughts. Unless that is I go to NetMums or similar and get my ‘representative’ to speak for me.
Catch my drift here? I’m quite sick of the treatment I’ve received as a parent, yet I have no idea what to do to change these attitudes. After all, I’m sleep deprived and my days are quite busy…